EPL Week 17: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIDecember 14, 2012

EPL Week 17: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

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    After the incredible last week of the English Premier League, Week 17 of the English competition looks to be just as spectacular with another strong slate of matchups.

    More so, Week 17 comes as a defining week for several teams and managers, with various clubs needing the three points on offer this week to get back on track and keep their various top half, top four or competition dreams alive.

    The Bleacher Report writers once again bring you their expert predictions for the weekend that's ahead; read on to see who they think will and won't be in the Premier League winner's circle this week.

Leaderboard

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    For those not familiar with the way this works, each writer has to pick a team and a score for every match in the Premier League that week.

    A correct pick (e.g. Chelsea win) will earn them one point, and a correct score (e.g. Chelsea win 3-0) sees them earn three points.

    Also, for the next few weeks or so, our writers will try to predict the highest-scoring game of the weekend (the game that produces the most goals). Should there be two or three games that have the same highest total, then we will give out points to whomever picked any of those games. A correct pick will earn them five points.

    Let's take a look at our Bleacher Report experts and how their predictions have held up through the opening weeks of the competition. 

    Mohamed Al-Hendy
    (@Mo_Hendy)

    World Football Featured Columnist 126 points

    Dan Talintyre
    (@dantalintyre) 

    World Football Featured Columnist 117 points
    Mike Cummings
    (@MikeCummings37) 
    World Football Lead Blogger and Writer 106 points

    Joe Tansey
    (@JTansey90)
     

    EPL Featured Columnist 105 points
    Karl Matchett
    (@karlmatchett) 
    World Football Featured Columnist 102 points
    Sam Tighe
    (@stighefootball) 
    World Football Featured Columnist 99 points

    Will Tidey
    (@willtidey)

    World Football Editor and Lead Writer 87 points

Newcastle United vs. Manchester City

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 7:45 a.m. ET

    We kick off the Premier League week with a fascinating matchup up north which sees the struggling Newcastle United take on the suffering Manchester City—a fixture bound to throw up plenty of surprises.

    The Citizens lost their league derby at home to Manchester United last week and were portrayed throughout the media as poor losers during the week—further adding pressure on Roberto Mancini following their exit from the UEFA Champions League already this season.

    They'll no doubt be desperate for three points here but are known to have their troubles away from home—meaning they'll need to bring their best performances this week as they make one of the more difficult road trips in the league, away to Newcastle United.

    Alan Pardew's men haven't been playing the best football this year, and they are slipping further and further down the competition ladder—currently resting in 14th position and, really, just two points outside of the dreaded relegation zone.

    The Magpies will be looking for another strong performance at home. With their inconsistent and temperamental play this season, they aren't to be considered the favorites that they might have been considered for this match were it played this time last season.

    Having said that, don't sleep on Newcastle either. This could be the match we look back on at the end of the season and point to as the defining moment in their year.

    Dan Talintyre Draw, 1-1
    Joe Tansey Manchester City win 3-1 
    Karl Matchett Manchester City win 2-1 
    Mike Cummings Manchester City win 2-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Manchester City win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Manchester City win 2-0 
    Will Tidey Manchester City win 2-1 

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Buoyed by their big comeback win away from home last week against West Ham, Liverpool will return back to Anfield this week full of confidence as they look to repeat their performances against Aston Villa.

    The Villans booked their spot in the final four of the Capital One Cup during the week with a strong win over Norwich City, but as far as the Premier League goes, it hasn't been the best of seasons for them this year—winning just three matches so far this season.

    The momentum thus appears to be with the Merseyside men here, and rightly so, for their march up the competition ladder has been a strong signal of intent from Brendan Rodgers' side that they aren't simply willing to lie down this season when things get tough.

    Luis Suarez will also return for the Reds this week—giving them a huge boost in attack and in morale, with the Uruguayan international the lifeblood of this time this year.

    Can the striker bring another three points to Merseyside, or will Liverpool's habits from earlier this season—dropping easy competition points—come back to haunt them this week?

    Dan Talintyre Liverpool win 3-0
    Joe Tansey Liverpool win 2-0 
    Karl Matchett Liverpool win 3-0 
    Mike Cummings Liverpool win 2-1
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Liverpool win 1-0 
    Sam Tighe Aston Villa win 1-0 
    Will Tidey Liverpool win 3-0 

Manchester United vs. Sunderland

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Now six points clear on top of the Premier League table following their monumental victory over Manchester City last week, Manchester United are certainly the definition of flying-high and favorites for the competition right now.

    The Red Devils have one of the hottest attacks in the league, and if they can continue to improve on their defensive lapses—which they were did against City—then they'll be an incredibly difficult team to break down at all this season, home or away.

    Playing at Old Trafford this week, Sunderland are the team tasked with the responsibility of stopping the high-flying Reds and bringing to an end their now four-game winning streak—a duty that seems far easier in principle than in actual reality.

    The Black Cats picked up an important win on Tuesday against Reading, but that was at the Stadium of Light and against lesser competition. This is at the Theatre of Dreams against the best team in the league, and it looks like being one way traffic for United again this week.

    Dan Talintyre Manchester United win 2-0
    Joe Tansey Manchester United win 3-0
    Karl Matchett Manchester United win 3-1 
    Mike Cummings Manchester United win 3-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Manchester United win 3-1* 
    Sam Tighe Manchester United win 3-1 
    Will Tidey Manchester United win 2-0 

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week

Norwich City vs. Wigan Athletic

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    The biggest surprise of late in the Premier League has to be Norwich City, who have won their last two in a row and haven't been defeated in nine matches—some of which have come against very difficult competition in Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Swansea City.

    Chris Hughton's men will be looking for another strong performance at Carrow Road this week when they host Wigan Athletic—a team currently lagging inside the relegation zone and with just one win from their past six Premier League matches.

    It appears that the streaking Canaries will continue on their merry ways in this one, but Wigan have the uncanny ability to turn it on and play well when their backs are up against the wall—as we all saw firsthand last season when they played their way out of relegation.

    Roberto Martinez's men might not be the most talented players in the league but they do have heart, and if they put that to work this week, who knows—the Lactics might even surprise themselves.

    Dan Talintyre Norwich win 2-0 
    Joe Tansey Norwich win 2-1 
    Karl Matchett Norwich win 2-0 
    Mike Cummings Norwich win 2-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Norwich win 1-0 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 2-2 
    Will Tidey Norwich win 1-0 

Queens Park Rangers vs. Fulham

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    The Harry Redknapp era has begun at Loftus Road for Queens Park Rangers, and whilst there have definitely been some improved performances, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss is yet to find victory in the English competition since walking into his new manager's post.

    The London club are now winless through their opening 16 matches this season—placing them three whole wins inside the relegation zone and a distant last on the league table; meaning that unless Redknapp is a miracle worker, it could be a long season in the top flight for Rangers.

    For every week that they remain winless, however, you get the feeling that this remarkable streak is going to come to an end and they will chalk up points in the win-column; could this week be the week which that dream finally comes to fruition?

    Perhaps. Fulham are a strong team away from home and picked up all three points last week in a strong performance against Newcastle United, but away from home, could have a little bit more of an issue against a QPR side desperate just to win.

    With Bryan Ruiz out, the Cottagers could be just a little bit vulnerable heading to Loftus Road this week, but can Rangers go all the way and chalk up their first win this week?

    Dan Talintyre QPR win 2-1
    Joe Tansey QPR win 2-1 
    Karl Matchett Draw, 1-1 
    Mike Cummings QPR win 1-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Draw, 1-1 
    Sam Tighe Fulham win 2-1 
    Will Tidey Fulham win 2-1 

Stoke City vs. Everton

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    Saturday, 15th December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    As we've seen already this season, there is no tougher place to travel to in the English Premier League than to the Britannia to take on Stoke City.

    The Potters haven't been beaten there all year and have conceded an incredible two goals in their seven matches at home as well—making for a very tough road trip, which Everton have the honor of making this week in the Premier League.

    The Merseyside club came from behind in the final few minutes to beat Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park last week and with their dynamic and direct attack, could provide a few problems for Stoke City and their pressing defense here, particularly if they don't allow them time to set across the back.

    David Moyes' men continue to impress in 2012, currently sitting fourth and just three points off Chelsea in third place and with just one loss in their past eight matches. Can they continue their strong run this week or will Stoke's home form prove to be too strong once more?

    Dan Talintyre Everton win 1-0
    Joe Tansey Draw, 1-1 
    Karl Matchett Draw, 1-1 
    Mike Cummings Draw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Everton win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 1-1 
    Will Tidey Draw, 0-0 

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City

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    Sunday, 16th December, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. ET

    After coming off tough defeats last week, both Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City will be looking to get back on track with a win here in a match that could prove to be one of the more fascinating affairs we witness in the Premier League this weekend.

    Spurs saw their 1-0 lead fall in the final minutes against Everton last week—losing 2-1 and continuing their trend of conceding late goals—and now drop outside of the top four on goal difference to the Toffees, who have a tough away match this week against Stoke.

    They'll be looking to get in front early here and control the middle of the pitch. Though against the talent and class existent in Swansea's midfield, you'd have to say that the Swans are more than up for a midfield battle—especially when they can bring the league's top goal scorer in Michu to the table.

    Will it be further heartbreak for the North London club this week, or can Andre Villas-Boas' men get back on track with a strong win at White Hart Lane?

    Dan Talintyre Swansea win 3-1* 
    Joe Tansey Tottenham win 3-2 
    Karl Matchett Tottenham win 2-1 
    Mike Cummings Tottenham win 3-2* 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Tottenham win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Swansea win 2-1 
    Will Tidey Tottenham win 1-0 

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week

West Bromwich Albion vs. West Ham United

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    Sunday, 16th December, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

    Their rise up the competition ladder has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, but with now three losses in a row, West Bromwich Albion are no doubt starting to feel the pressure and are slipping down the competition ladder because of it.

    The Baggies have lost three in a row and now welcome a gritty West Ham United side to the Hawthorns this week—a team that has lost three of their last four but has shown at times this year that they are definitely capable of mixing it with the best teams in the league.

    Steve Clarke's men know that they need to bounce back with a strong win here—even if it's just to give them their confidence back—but having watched what the Hammers did to Chelsea two weeks back, they'll be very cautious about their chances heading into this one.

    Will Sam Allardyce continue to surprise people with West Ham's return to the top flight, or will the Baggies get back to their winning ways once more?

    Dan Talintyre West Brom win 2-1 
    Joe Tansey West Brom win 1-0 
    Karl Matchett West Brom win 4-3* 
    Mike Cummings Draw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Draw, 1-1 
    Sam Tighe West Brom win 3-2* 
    Will Tidey West Ham win 2-1 

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

Reading vs. Arsenal

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    Monday, 17th December, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    We wrap up our Premier League week with a bit of Monday Night Football which sees the newly promoted Reading Royals at home to Arsenal in what has quickly become a must-win match for Arsene Wenger and the North London club.

    Following their humiliating defeat to Bradford City during the week, and the fact they've only won two of their past seven Premier League matches, Arsenal are no doubt under plenty of pressure to perform here and silence the doubters that they aren't a top-four team this season.

    And normally, you'd say that the Gunners would win this match without a problem, but you just can't say that this season—not without thinking twice about their opponent.

    Fortunately, for this week, there isn't a whole lot of thinning to do with the Royals. Promoted last season, struggling this season, currently sitting second last with just one win for the year and five straight Premier League defeats—surely the Gunners won't drop points in this one?

    Dan Talintyre Arsenal win 3-1
    Joe Tansey Arsenal win 5-3* 
    Karl Matchett Arsenal win 2-1 
    Mike Cummings Arsenal win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Arsenal win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Arsenal win 3-1 
    Will Tidey Arsenal win 4-0*

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week